Basalt advances on three major projects
Debate swirling over a proposed hotel at the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site hasn’t paralyzed Basalt. The town government is geared up to complete at least three major projects this summer.
A pedestrian underpass of Highway 82 at the intersection with Basalt Avenue was recently approved by the Town Council. The underpass will be built on the east end of the intersection. It will provide a link between the Basalt Store area and the major Roaring Fork Transportation Authority parking lot.
Two riverfront parks also will get long-anticipated attention. The council approved a $785,647 contract with Rocky Mountain Custom Landscaping Inc. for work at a new park adjacent to the Basalt Regional Library and engulfing the existing skateboard park visible off Midland Avenue.
The landscaping firm also will mold the park along the Roaring Fork River on the town-owned portion of the former Pan and Fork site.
The underpass has been eyed for years as a safer alternative to pedestrians and cyclists crossing eight lanes of traffic at the main intersection on the Basalt Bypass. The estimated cost is about $4.8 million. Basalt has lined up $4.55 million — including $2 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation, $1.3 million from town coffers, $750,000 from the Elected Officials Transportation Committee and $500,000 from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. The town is seeking the remaining funds.
The tentative schedule envisions an open house for final input on the design this month and for the project to go out for bid in June. The town is targeting Aug. 1 for approval of a construction contract. Construction is anticipated in “late summer,” according to town documents.
“The underpass itself will be constructed in two phases, with highway traffic being diverted onto one half of the highway to allow construction of one half of the underpass, then restoration of the highway surface and rerouting of traffic onto that half of the highway so the remainder of the underpass can be constructed,” said a memo prepared by Town Engineer Larry Thompson.
“It is expected that these two phases of underpass construction will be done while the groundwater levels are the lowest — one phase around November 2015 through January 2016 and the second phase around March through May 2016,” Thompson wrote, with a caveat that the schedule could change.
While the construction work will cause traffic delays, vehicles should flow better through the busy intersection once at-grade crossing for pedestrians is eliminated at the traffic light.
On the park front, the town has already completed the first phase of creating parks on both sides of the Roaring Fork River. Old, concrete barriers placed on the north riverbank by a private landowner were ripped out, and boulders were strategically placed to stabilize the bank in a more naturally looking way. Similar stabilization occurred on the south side of the river.
The new park and wetlands on the north side will be combined with Old Pond Park to make one long park from Midland Avenue Bridge to Old Pond. The plan includes expanding the trail network and constructing a boardwalk over wetlands.
River access will be created for whitewater adventurers and benches will be placed along the riverfront so people can watch the activity or relax in the natural setting.
On the south side, which is tentatively named Midland Park, additional footpaths and boardwalks are contemplated along with unique features such as a “story tree,” fire pit and lawn area where people can congregate. A feature called a “reading nest” also will be located close to the library.
Construction is scheduled to get underway as soon as possible, according to a town memo.
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Basalt mayoral candidates Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt said at a Feb. 10 forum they endorsed the town government’s $1.34 million expenditure to expand a riverfront park. Candidate and councilman Bill Infante said not so fast and provided an alternative view.